Ruth Bissell Cowing Diary Transcript 1808-1834 (PEO.41D)

Transcription of the 1808-1834 diary of Ruth Bissell Cowing

Diary of Ruth Bissell Cowing, Ancestor of Ann Conaway of Sargentville

Transcript of the Diary of Ruth Bissell Cowing


February 8th 1818

Still my days are lengthened I have seen the close of the past year & thus far the beginning of a new- what scenes the end will provide God only knows  on the 25th of Dec Phebe Burn departed & on the 22nd  Jan Mr. Gleasen Ring- on the 24 Mrs. Pierce wife of Doc Pierce of Worthington & a child of Cap’t Ring’s in the neighborhood—the death of Mr. Ring although he lived in an adjacent town was very surprising- sudden and unexpected no doubt to his friends from one rising sun to another saw him well and in the arms of death—he left a wife & two small children to experience their loss—thus we see that death will separate the dearest friends on Earth-  O I feel that my heart is not in a suitable frame to meet God in such providences & say that all is well.  He alone must support as well as affect on I feel that I should sink beneath his hand should I be called to pass such a scene-  on Monday the 2nd Mr. C__ [her husband Calvin Cowing] left his house & family & has gone on a long journey to the west perhaps we have parted never more to meet in this world- O can I bear that?…  my mind feels gloomy-I feel lonesome with numbers around me- some trying scene does surely await me- O God prepare all I can write

Saturday eve 21st

Still I remain lonesome and melancholy as to the enjoyment of Earthly company- and whenever my mind dwells on the parting scene with the dearest friend I have on earth & I indulge the thought that possibly I may experience it- I am all confusion-distraction which convinces me that I am not perfectly resigned that God should do with me & mine as he sees best  why was I blest with a companion so agreeable to be deprived so much of his company- is it not teachable!  Is it to show me that I must look beyond this world for a constant and never absent friend   I think I feel to trust in God hoping that he will reconcile my mind to whatever his will is..

March 1st

A beautiful day ushers the returning spring, the sun shines with uncommon warmth. My mind like the day is in some measure calm & I think if not deceived I have warm & sincere desire ascending to God to regulate my heart & life & tells me to place my whole trust in his hands & be submissive to his will…

March 27

After an absence of nearly seven weeks I am again blessed with the company of him who alone of all earthly friends can cheer my gloomy hours-(he returned March 21)  O may we both be sensible of the goodness of God to us & ours in protecting us & may we spend our spared lives in his service..  I think it is my desire that I may not be left to place my heart on Earthly objects of any kind more than I aught but enjoy them all as ___ mercy’s & be willing to resign them when called for…  yes, I do believe in an unseen God  let others say as they may & in his hand I place my trust- I feel willing that he should rule & long that he would take possession of my heart.

April 5

On Monday March 30th I visited Sister Stetson [Ruth’s sister Cynthia who married Bela Stetson] called on my way to enquire after Mrs. Moore who was very sick-& behold when I returned in the eve the amiable woman has expired- I found the family sunk in sorrow for their loss  I hope that her virtues & pious examples may be long remembered & practiced by her Family  & neighbors for truly she was a worthy woman  “Why should such virtue be forgot Soon as the flesh to dust is brought And hid by death’s dark mask” her place in her family & in the church is now empty yet we trust she fills a mansion in the heavenly world & is now praising that Jesus whom she professed to love while here below.  I have thought sometimes that my place in the church would be but little missed were I to be called out of time, for it appears to me that I do but a little to profit or comfort my breather in the Lord.  Yet notwithstanding all my ___, I think I can say I love the people of God & chose them for my company & it is the desire of my heart that I may be used as an instrument to the glory of God tho even so contrary to my natural feelings.  “Should I joy his saints to meet Find at times the promise sweet If I did love the Lord”  took my seat with the church this day to commemorate the death & sufferings of Christ

April 16th  1818

From the days of infancy I have ever been pleased with the employment of writing, and my taste for it still remains, although for the most of my time my mind is confused to that degree that I cannot with any degree of regularity pursue the employment.  My pen must keep pace with my mind when I write and I think there are some things in which I feel firmly established yet alas! In others how wavering & inconstant- I looked back but one leaf of my writing & I felt then willing that God should rule as he pleaseth, but perhaps I feel willing because things are ruled now in some measure to suit my feelings- whilst I enjoy health, friends restored, & the comforts of life in abundance perhaps my treacherous heart may deceive me, but let God strip me of these & other blessings, & then is the time for me to know if I am willing that God should rule-  I think if I am not deceived that the frowns and smiles of Mortals appear small when compared to that of my judge  and let him but smile & the whole creation may frown in vain  O that I could see & realize the emptiness of creature & earthly objects & be impressed with a sense of the shortness of time & the importance of vast Eternity… O Eternity, Eternity, Eternity.

May 17th 1818

I know not how to describe my feelings of mind for a month past, I am sensible for the most part of the time I have felt discomposed and uneasy in mind- yet earnestly beggand of God that he would govern all the affairs of my life as seemeth him good- and subject my mind to his will- then all will be well and mind at peace.  I consider my situation & trials in life to very singular for one of my years & O for wisdom to conduct right & patience to bear the ills of life without repining… Methinks I hear my Saviour say “Strength shall be equal to your day”   God knows all my trials my secret groans are open to his ear & I trust in him that he will be my support through all that he is pleased to inflict upon me  soon the conflict will be ‘ore  soon all earthly happiness and sorrow will be att an end  then why should I rejoice or grieve at the events of life since they are soon to pass away.  Time looks very short  Eternity near and vastly important.  I think I can give up soul & body into the hands of God & venture into Eternity trusting in him alone to plead my cause, who am all sin & pollution in myself  I know that my redeemer lives & O that I could live to his glory but here I am dwelling in clay crushed before the ___ clouded with ignorance defiled by sin & many times charmed with the gilded nothings.  The language I write in cannot afford words to describe my vileness-  it is against God that I sin & it is he alone that can cleanse this heart of sin & fit me to appear before him.  O what wonderful love is this! But what a worthless lover am I    On the 16th of April Eunice Gowen departed this life.

Monday May 31st

If there is no future state for man if the soul does not exist after death why do we tremble to leave this world & whence this anxiety about appearing before our judge… O these are important truths!!! Eternal realities!!! I think I have realized them of late to as great a degree as ever in my life- when I awake in the night the thought bears hard on my mind that I am bound to an Eternity & very shortly must appear thereO let me examine myself & see what is the foundation of my hope–& what affords me the most happiness  (interrupted)

July 2

To be happy is the wish of Mortals, some seek for it in one thing, some in another  for my part if there is anything that affords me happiness as to the things of the world-it is in the enjoyment of health & reason, that I may take care of my family in their helpless dependant state and now wether it be a delusion or a reality there is a still greater happiness that I sometimes enjoy, which is this  notwithstanding all my sin & pollution I am enabled to claim the promise that Christ dyed for me & in his own time will cleanse my heart from sin & prepare me to dwell in his presence- I think it is the desie of my heart that God would guide me in all my ways & govern my thoughts. “O that the Lord would guide my ways To keep his statutes still O that my God would grant me grace  To ___ and do his will”   on the 13 of June Clarissa Strong was committed to the grave-& on the 19 a child of Mr. Samuel Bryant in this neighborhood.

Monday eve  July 20th

After a long time of dry weather we are again blessed with refreshing showers from heaven  the rain has poured down in great abundance this day-  I think this instance of God’s goodness calls for the hearts of gratitude from us as rational dependant creatures—but methinks I cannot rest contented with these outward blessings- my soul thirsts for the fountains of living waters- I think I long that God would shower down the rain of righteousness in my heart & in the hearts of others  I know that I realise the importance of these things–& O that I may strive earnestly with the God of heaven & not let him go until I have obtained a blessing “Why should I cleave to things below And let my God my Saviour go”  we are running down the swift stream of time & must all soon launch unto a boundless Eternity.  Last week on Wednesday Mrs. Burton & on Thursday Mrs. Stearns left the shores of time & took their flight into the unknown world.

Tuesday August 11th

Death is the theme that employs my pen- on the morn of the 27th July Mr. Thomas Buck departed & on Thursday eve last the eldest child of Mr. Justice Todd.  In the death of the first not only the family, but the neighborhood & society in general have experienced a great loss  he was a kind, benevolent, & very useful man, & I am sure his death must be greatly lamented by all his acquaintance.

August 30th

Time cuts down all  Both great and small. On Wednesday eve 26 the aged Mrs. Todd departed this life, in the 90th year of her age.  Her bodily strength & power were continued in a remarkable manner until the last sickness seized her.  Thus we may see the power & will of God in the disposal of his creatures  some he preserves to advanced old age while others are cut down of all ages continually.  No caution can preserve our breath Then be prepared for sudden death.  It appears to me that I sometimes feel the importance of examining myself to know if I am on the right foundation!! In a little I will be in an unalterable state & if I go on deceiving myself here in time how awful must my situation be in Eternity!!!  To hope for heaven and land in hell  what is the heaven I hope for? I answer in being completely cleansed from sin & a heart unformed to the will of God in all things  then let God make such discoveries of himself as he sees best and I am sure it will make heaven in our souls—for he will certainly manifest for our good. & what more can we want.

Oct 25th  (interrupted)

December 3rd

A long long time I have neglected writing- I have often attempted but was frustrated before I could begin- for the most part of the time since writing I have felt calm & composed, in a great measure submissive to the will of God in the disposal of myself- & earnestly praying that he would order all affairs in my life & submit me entirely to his will- but for some weeks past my mind has been disturbed- not that I want to alter the government of God- but that my fellow Mortals may conduct like rational creatures & not try to destroy my peace of mind without cause.  I do not consider all my perplexity as coming from the hand of God directly but he suffers it so to be as in the case of Servant god of old & perhaps it may be for my good in the end- if it drives to God in prayer- if it teaches me not to seek for happiness in the creature- & stimulates me to lead a holy, religious life before the giddy & (to appearance) thoughtless mortals around me  I say if my perplexities have this good effect, I must consider it for my good.  My mind I am sensible is now dwelling on the dark side of things- my prospects to look forward to seem gloomy a cold winter before me me health poor & surrounded with a large Fmily & my dearest Friend that cheers my gloomy hours absent the most part of the time-  but after a long & dark night day must appear- so I will hope that my mind will be again brightened & these gloomy feelings disappear-  I have in times past & even since writing my feelings last thought I was the happiest Mortal living to think I have reason to hope I have a friend in heaven that will never leave me, and a friend on Earth that although I know we must be separated yet while life is spared I believe wishes & strives for my happiness- but connected as we are in the world he cannot bring my manner of life to suit my natural inclination. I know not the length of time I have to live on Earth- but I think I never had a more realizing sense of vast Eternity that I have had at times for 6 months past  I think sometimes these deep impressions are to warn me that my life is near the close- & if so why do I not seese the golden moments of time as they pass in trying to set my house in order & prepare for a future state- if I were going a journey in time would there not be many things to advise with my Family, many directions to leave many charges to give my dear little ones to be obedient and behave well- & am I about taking my long last journey & yet so negligent & careless about the vast concerns of their Lord  O my God quicken me & arouse to duty whether life be longer or shorter surely the importance of the work is equally the same-  on September 28th the 3rd wife of Capt. Reuben Cowen departed & on the 16th of Nov. the youngest child of Mr. Elijah Higgins.  The clock strikes 12 I write no more at present (Thanksgiving Day eve)


Wednesday Feb. 10th 1819

For the first time I date the new year, and if I live to its close may I have something to record that may witness I have made some advances in the divine life.  My natural life passes swiftly but my spiritual advances if any are so slow as hardly to be perceived,  I have of late had many things to comfort & support my wish that God is my friend, & will support & preserve me amids all dangers & troubles that attend me.   I have felt melancholy & dejected the week past on consequence of parting with the one that I hold far dearest in this life- on Saturday nyt last he left me & has gone on a long journey—–if it is a crime in the eyes of the Supreme Being thus to have hearts united as I believe ours are- I have thought sometimes I wished my affections to be in some measure weaned but I believe the God above united us and while life remains the union cannot be dissolved, therefore again when I reflect I consider it not a crime.  It is like tearing the half from one’s self to part. Dear friends in time even while there are hopes of being blessed again with each others company- and if an endless separation take place how miserable must the situation of the survivor be as to worldly happiness –I say as to worldly happiness for even in this life there are many things that contribute much to our happiness and the assurance of a faithful Friend is one of the greatest-  but all Earthly happiness is uncertain & of short duration-  instances daily present to confirm this truth.  January 22nd the wife of Mr. Jonathan Brown was snatched from her family & on the 23rd committed to the grave—but God is able to support in the trying hour & I believe can make up these outward losses- on Thursday 28th Jan the aged Mrs. Canada departed & on Saturday following the youngest child of Mr. Justice Todd.

Sabbath Feb. 28th

The last day in the winter months has arrived & I think I may venture to say the oldest person in town can say they never passed so calm, mild & agreeable a winter outwardly before but the spring is about to open cold & blustery the snow blowing in heaps around us & the appearance outward this day is gloomy & melancholy indeed, but I think the gloom must be greatly increased in the Family of Mr. Joseph Cole in this neighborhood who are this day to commit their only darling child to the grave.  She expired yesterday morn after a short illness  I am sensible that my mind has been in a repining frame of late- discontented- lonesome with numbers around me & I am fearful that I greatly displeased my Maker in being thus uneasy in the situation his providence has placed me.  Thy Maker’s will has placed thee here A Maker wise and good then let be contented, trust in God & pray for submission to his will, believing that he will order all things well   on Tuesday morn last the dwelling house of Mr. Mor was consumed by fire- & two families thus deprived of a house for their mortal frames

Tuesday April 20th

Still I am this side a boundless Eternity while others around are daily called to enter and never to return.  Last week on Wednesday 14th the aged Mrs. Simpson of Worthington & Mr. Davis of this town departed—on Thursday the wife of Mr. Gathelus Cowen, on Fryday Mr. Collier & this Morn William son of Mr. Zeb Robinson   O shall I be inattentive & thoughtless when I certainly know that sooner or later I must experience the like event when death calls  prepared or unprepared must hase away- I do not think that I am altogether stupid with regard to my future state- yet I do not enjoy the frame of mind that I wish I did  I want to feel the importance of living to die myself & I aught to try more to impress on the minds of those aound me.  I know not what good effect my weak efforts might have were I faithful to advise & warn so far as my abilities will permit- we have meetings constantly in this neighborhood where prayer is made, advise & warning given by numbers & I think sometimes if they will not inprove when others far more capable than I give advise surely they will not listen should I attempt  O am I as a stumbling block that must be removed before God will work in the hearts of our Family- I feel unworthy that God should enter under our roof but O may I not plead for a crumb while others around are blessed with showers of his grace  O cut not off my days until mine eyes have seen of thy goings in this house- I know my heart hath desired & longed for it more than my lips have declared (God forgive my neglect)

June 8th

Once again I write & perhaps for the last time..  a trying scene for the frail body is before and just ready to overtake me- God only knows whether I shall be supported and carried safe through.  I feel my dependence to be on him alone & to trust myself in life or death in his hands with a measureable composure- “I trust his faithfulness & power To save me in the trying hour”  should my life spared a little longer I pray that the preserver of it may enable me to spend it more in his service that ever yet I have done my past life looks like that of an unprofitable servant but the Lord if it pleaseth him can yet use me as an instrument for his glory

Sabbath 27th

I this day took my book & on reading what I last wrote & recollecting my feelings of body & mind when I wrote & thinking of my now comfortable situation my heart I think was filled with gratitude & mine eyes were filled with tears, O that I may even retain a grateful sense of the goodness of God to me  on the morn of the 9th I was delivered of my 5th Son….  God made my bed for me in my sickness & hath restored me to health thus far in a remarkable manner as thy day may demand hall thy strength ever be

August 19th  (1819)

Time flys, man dies, Eternity’s at hand- the Summer almost ended & autumn will soon arrive O that I may have a heart of gratitude to God for his goodness to me.  I think I have had had a realizing sense this day of the blessings that I enjoy- whilst I have all the comforts of life other poor objects around have hardly a Morsel that they can put in their mouths- a poor woman is added to our neighborhood of this disruption, after an absence of 7 months I rode through the street the 1st day of this month to the meeting house took my seat with the church at the communion table and I then thought my Saviour met me with his smiles. “go ye up to the feast I go not up yet?” thus we are commanded to go forward in obedience, if ever so dark in mind& we have a promise that Christ will meet with us.

Oct, 23rd

Busied with the cares and concerns of the World to that degree that I have hardly leisure to take my pen- and now I have taken it what shall I write.  I am sure my present state of mind cannot be pleasing to my Maker-& is by no means agreeable to myself- surrounded as I am with a very large family my care & perplexity is very great & I sometimes feel unreconciled to the task put upon me- then again I view the hand of God in being thus situated I feel to say “the cup which my Father hath given me shal I not drink it”  O would that God would give me patience to bear the allotments of his providence & not feel to murmer, but look forward to the joyful day when these troubles will be ‘ore, if I am what I have professed to be—on Wednesday the 13th heard that Mrs. Collins was committed to the grave- it seemed to arouse me very sensibly a person near my age & but a few months age to appearance as likely to live as I am- but she is gone & how soon it may be my turn… God only knows…


Feb 6 1820

For the first time in this year I take my pen & little did I realise the last time that I wrote that my next opportunity I should record the death of a member of my Family yes. It is true the once lively and blooming sister Betsy lies mouldering in the silent grave- she expired Jan 21st after a lingering illness of many months.  I think in her dying moments she manifested an intense dependence on God alone for mercy and seemed sensible of her sin & pollution before a holy God & to appearance a heart of sincerity to commit her Soul into his hands begging of him to have mercy & not let her Soul be lost.  I think we have reason to hope the Lord was pleased to prepare her heart for his grace & if so, the truly he would bestow it- “He never will permit The soul that fain would see his face T perish at his feet”  thus she has gone and left us never more to return, she has done with pain and distress of body to which she was long accustomed in this world & my praises to God in heaven O that we as a Family might not be careless and stupid under the chastening hand of God but make a wise improvement & prepare to follow her, remembering that it will soon be said of us, like it is said of her- she is mouldering in the silent grave “This gloomy person waits for us When ‘ere the summons come”

April 9th

I have taken my pen and now what shall I write- I have accustomed myself for a number of years to write for my own diversion the feelings of my mind & I now lament that I have no more of a feeling sense of the goodness of God to me & my ingratitude to him when I reflect how little past of my time is devoted to serious meditation and prayer I think I will be at no loss to account for my unfruitful mind in the things of religion.  Christ hath said the laborer is worthy of his home” then surely if I am rewarded according to my deserts I must not expect but a crumb from my Masters table  am I contented in this situation surely I think not-I long to have my mind raised from Earth to heaven to have some new discoverys of God & the heavenly world of which I hope (the unworthy) I shall be an inhabitant-   “This life’s a dream an empty show But the bright world to which I go Hath joys substantial & sincere”  last week on Fryday Mr. Abel Staunton was committed to the grave after a short illness

Saturday eve 15 April

Myself & Family are still blessed with life & health  the health of our little babe has been restored in a remarkable manner when as we thought he was drawing to the close of life- the scene was changed and yet he lives  yesterday little Otis narrowly escaped being drowned while playing for diversion by the side of a stream-  I think I have some sense of the goodness of God & hope their lives are restored for future blessings.

May 28th

Since writing Lydia has been confined the most part of the time to her room sick with a fever. Fryday April 21st she absented home & was taken violently ill & for 2 weeks not able to be removed  she was then brought home on a bed & this day is the first of her riding out—for the most part of the time since writing I have felt very gloomy and disquieted-  I hope that my heart does not rise in opposition to the government of God & yet sometimes I am afraid that it does  else why am I not more cheerful and contented with my situation-  since I joined in the marriage relation my situation in life has been peculiarly uncommon for a young person- I think I have often addressed God from a sincere heart for wisdom to direct me to act for his glory  now if my desires have been sincere will he not direct the Soul that looks to him for wisdom  yes, I truly believe that he will then if in any instance.  I have been directed by infinite wisdom he will surely approbate the action although Mortals may condemn me, this thought many times gives me a spring of comfort & I can rise above the cares & perplexities of life & feel willing that God should rule if he will enable to cry to him for strength & direction “ “Trials make the promise sweet Treats give new life to prayer Bring me down at Jesus feet Lay me low & keep me there”  I received a letter May 8th from Sister Robinson [Ruth’s sister Flavia who married Bonney Robinson] informing me that she & family were about to remove to a distant part  she expressed an anxiety to see some of her Friends once more   accordingly Father & Sister E [probably Ruth’s sister Emily] set out yesterday to visit her—her prospects for her to enjoy the comforts of this life but I hope that she may have strength and fortitude equal to the days of her trial-  “The mighty God the wise and good Knows that our frames is feeble And will no heavy load impose Beyond the strength his grace bestows:

August 28th

I was not a little surprised when I took up this little book this eve to find my last date 3 months ago-Alas & how I have spent this pleasant Summer that now draws to a close  have I had no pleasing meditations on heaven and divine things that I might have recorded had I been punctual at the time  I think I have a great many times felt impressed to take my pen- but I neglected  & now to write my present frame of mind I am fearful would be to my shame and confusion  I feel condemned for my Sins of heart & life- when I view my rising Family around me I consider what examples I set for them how little good advise they have from my lips & how little they are restrained in their outward conduct on the Lords holy day  it causes me anquish of heart that cannot be expressed  I make new resolutions & as often break them to try to reform & lead a more holy life  I see my own influences & sometimes can look to God for strength help and direction

Oct 29th

“Without me ye can do nothing”  these are the words of the blessed Saviour of Man-& I think of late I have had a realizing sense of the truth of them- I often in my retired serious hours resolve on leading a life more devoted to God & in some degree to restrain the outward actions of my rising Family & give them more instructions in the ways of holiness- but Alas! I fear that I make but little proficiency & am fearful that instead of ___ I do by my examples lead them more & more in Sin  O could I have the help of a Jesus how easy a thing to regulate my own life & the conduct of others. Is he not willing to assist? If I believe his word I must believe that he is…  but I have such a sense of my insufficiency that I see I cannot ask his assistance aright without his divine help- are we then such dependant creatures! How aught me to pray continually   Pray that God would help us to pray  the time is short did we spend our whole lives in prayer- & surely true prayer is the life of the Christian (Christian)  which is comprehended in the word to be Christ-like—then if so have I not reason to fear that I do not deserve the name- sometimes I think I can say I possess some of the virtues of which Christ was possest such as Humility, Patience, & an entire submission to the will of God  then again I fear my heart is all opposition & rebellion  I sometimes view my unsubjectedness as my punishment for my sin- for I am sensible that when my heart is truly subjected- let my outward situation be as it may I enjoy the most happiness  therefore my prayer at times is let the Lord dispose of me and mine as seemeth him good only give me submission to his will- “Content my Father at the will And quiet as a child”  on Tuesday 16th Mr. Gaues Rowe of Worthington was drowned in a well- and the same eve Betsy Butt expired and a child of Mr. Thomas Cowen the day following on the 26 a child of Mr. Austin sweet Treats give new life to prayer Bring me down at Jesus feet Lay me low & keep me there”  I received a letter May 8th from Sister Robinson [Ruth’s sister Flavia who married Bonney Robinson] informing me that she & family were about to remove to a distant part  she expressed an anxiety to see some of her Friends once more   accordingly Father & Sister E [probably Ruth’s sister Emily] set out yesterday to visit her—her prospects for her to enjoy the comforts of this life but I hope that she may have strength and fortitude equal to the days of her trial-  “The mighty God the wise and good Knows that our frames is feeble And will no heavy load impose Beyond the strength his grace bestows:

August 28th

I was not a little surprised when I took up this little book this eve to find my last date 3 months ago-Alas & how I have spent this pleasant Summer that now draws to a close  have I had no pleasing meditations on heaven and divine things that I might have recorded had I been punctual at the time  I think I have a great many times felt impressed to take my pen- but I neglected  & now to write my present frame of mind I am fearful would be to my shame and confusion  I feel condemned for my Sins of heart & life- when I view my rising Family around me I consider what examples I set for them how little good advise they have from my lips & how little they are restrained in their outward conduct on the Lords holy day  it causes me anquish of heart that cannot be expressed  I make new resolutions & as often break them to try to reform & lead a more holy life  I see my own influences & sometimes can look to God for strength help and direction

Oct 29th

“Without me ye can do nothing”  these are the words of the blessed Saviour of Man-& I think of late I have had a realizing sense of the truth of them- I often in my retired serious hours resolve on leading a life more devoted to God & in some degree to restrain the outward actions of my rising Family & give them more instructions in the ways of holiness- but Alas! I fear that I make but little proficiency & am fearful that instead of ___ I do by my examples lead them more & more in Sin  O could I have the help of a Jesus how easy a thing to regulate my own life & the conduct of others. Is he not willing to assist? If I believe his word I must believe that he is…  but I have such a sense of my insufficiency that I see I cannot ask his assistance aright without his divine help- are we then such dependant creatures! How aught me to pray continually   Pray that God would help us to pray  the time is short did we spend our whole lives in prayer- & surely true prayer is the life of the Christian (Christian)  which is comprehended in the word to be Christ-like—then if so have I not reason to fear that I do not deserve the name- sometimes I think I can say I possess some of the virtues of which Christ was possest such as Humility, Patience, & an entire submission to the will of God  then again I fear my heart is all opposition & rebellion  I sometimes view my unsubjectedness as my punishment for my sin- for I am sensible that when my heart is truly subjected- let my outward situation be as it may I enjoy the most happiness  therefore my prayer at times is let the Lord dispose of me and mine as seemeth him good only give me submission to his will- “Content my Father at the will And quiet as a child”  on Tuesday 16th Mr. Gaues Rowe of Worthington was drowned in a well- and the same eve Betsy Butt expired and a child of Mr. Thomas Cowen the day following on the 26 a child of Mr. Austin

Fryday eve 18

Another death to record on Saturday 4 eve Mrs. James suddenly expired  I feel sometimes that my end is also near my sands almost run  & if so may I be found ready & with a smile pass the important hour of death  O may I hope that often all the tryals of life my Soul at last shall find a peaceful home.


January 2 1821

Feeling an inclination to write my feelings & have an opportunity I take my pen- I have lived to commence a new year- but- perhaps I may not live to see the end of it- & I think sometimes why should I wish for its continuance since it is ___ with Sin, Vanity, & Confusion,   I awoke yesterday Morn with a mind calm & composed reflecting on the goodness of God to me & with a desire for a heart of gratitude but Family affairs soon destroyed my peace of mind & a trifling affair took place of which I feel innocent as to meaning to give offence- but for which I must suffer in the minds of others- but sure I am that no person can think so bad of me as I do of myself when I have a sense of my wicked heart- I am prone to Sin & that continually- & I am sensible if I had more grace in ___ I should have less unholy actions manifest to the world—I think I know the Sin that of all others doth easily beset me—naturally repining & indulging a gloomy frame of mind- loving Solitude which is impossible  for me to enjoy I am sensible that I am not an agreeable companion when surrounded by numbers- my inward feeling too much govern my outward action for the comfort of others, if I write my present feelings govern my pen-  but my prayer is O God forgive me let Mortals condemn or justify as seemeth them best  If I think or act or read Sin is mixt with all I do You that love the Lord ended Tell me is it so with grace
Ruth —

Sabbath day Feb. 25 1821

I have again began a new book- & how I shall fill these vacant leaves, or whether my trembling hand will be laid in the dust ‘ere I fill many of them God only knoweth—Why I have such particular impression to write my feeling I know not—did I live near to God & have great Manifestations of heaven and divine things to record- it might afford me much satisfaction in the perusal  But, alas! my outward actions witness against me before the gazing world & my writings confirm it that my heart is is in an unsubjected frame to the dealings of God with me for the most part of my time & my knowledge in divine things (if any) faint & small but in the sincerity of my heart I write what I do- & if my Soul has been washed in the precious blood of Christ it may teach me humility to peruse my past life, & hope that notwithstanding my vileness & my weak & feeble efforts to attain, I shall at last come off conquered & win the praise- and why because Christ lives  those he hath loved he loves to the end.  In him I am perfect & compleat wanting nothing-  O glorious hour O blest abode I shall be near & like my God O let me still be advancing nearer to him while on earth  Soon I must try the realities of a vast Eternity- could I live to the benefit of others        my life might then be occasioned a blessing- but if others view me as I view myself I appear a vile unprofitable person hardly fit for the sevice of God or Man  on the morn of the 6th Mrs. Clapp, wife of Levi Clapp departed this life & on the 11th Mable Burnell of this town  if we
have good reason to hope that our departed friends are prepared for glory aught we not rather to rejoice than mourn their exit—that they have finished their tiresome pilgrimage on Earth & will forever rest with the lord  But notwithstanding the rationality of thought- I feel that I should mourn & afraid much if called to part with Companion & children like others

Sabbath April 15 1821

My health for a week past has been very poor but I hope that I am now on the gaining hand-My mind has been uncommonly exercised the past winter- I have felt for the most part of the time like one weary of the world & the pleasures of it have appeared as nothing & altogether Vanity- the language of my heart has been ! rule Lord, & subject me to thy government if Death is soon to overtake me prepare me, if life to be prolonged let me live to thy glory.  O that God would search me & try me & if I’m deceived make it known unto & lead me in the right way.  “Since I have placed my hope in God A refuge always nigh Why should I like some timorous bird To distant mountains fly”  it is better- to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in Princes” he doth not disappoint like Man but in his own time will accomplish the promises he hath made  O that I may be enabled to make a right improvement of the scenes that I am passing through & learn to trust God come life or Death-

May 21st 1821

I will take my pen ‘ere another death salutes my ears.  On the 30th April the aged Mrs. Bryant left the shores of time & we trust took her flight to the Mansions of Blessedness  but the next…do I live to record it? Yes, the once lively and blooming Eunice K. hath fallen a victim to Death.  O my Sister! In what language shall I paint the different scenes that I witnessed in the last few months of your life!  When I witnessed your nuptials Dec last & saw you connected in our Family circle I flattered  myself that your youthful years might be prolonged & you be useful & a comfort to the surviving members of our Family- But alas! how soon the scene changed & I called on the eve of the 6 inst. To see you take a parting hand with companion weeping by your side & surrounding friends, to witness his agony, as well as bear their own grief. And now all Future pleasing prospects are buried with you in the silent grave- but God is just nor let vile man complain, nor say the Lord hath made mankind in vain  O that it may not be in vain to any of us that we are called once & again by the voice of Death- prepare, my Soul prepare to follow her…  O may I reflect wherefore I am spared who am feeble in body & by reason of the many perplexities which daily attend me & not having fortitude to surmount them but daily sink under them, feel my mind to be in an unfit frame to be a comfort to any Person.  Sometimes I feel my heart to say O Lord let me live more to thy glory & my life useful to others- or fit me to dwell with thee & take me to thy self….  On the 19th inst. Mr. Amaziah Cole in this neighborhood & Sarah Evereth of Worthington departed this life-

August 25th 1821

The pleasant summer month almost expired & I can truly say that I have passed a calm & pleasant summer in mind for the most part of my time   I have felt subjected to the government of God, & my mind has been enlarged in perusing the sacred Scriptures & in meditation on heaven & divine things-  then can not I now trust God although to look forward my future prospects look more gloomy my health poor & family concerns large-but- methinks I hear my Saviour say strength shall be equal to your day  yes- I will still trust in God although he slay me I will trust in him- when I have so often experienced his goodness and seen his promises fulfilled to those that trust in him- shall I despair-surely no…. His love in times past forbids me to think He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink Tho’ dark may be my way since he is my guide ‘Tis mine to obey ‘tis his to provide..   I long to be a more profitable servant to make greater advances in the divine life- O have I hopes that my house & treasure are above & shall I not labor more to attain divine knowledge & be more prepared to become an inhabitant of that blest abode-

September 9th

Monday night the 5th a violent storm of rain and heavy wind laid prostrate fields of corn, blew down old buildings & fences & seemed sometimes to threaten speedy destruction to  all nature but before morning the storm abated the Sun arose calm & pleasant & our lives preserved which display of divine goodness I think calls for hearts of gratitude from all who witnessed the scene…  I have been searching myself of late to know by what spirit I am governed whether by the spirit of God or by the enemy of all righteousness…  I feel measurable subjected to the will of God in the disposal of me & mine, & am willing that he should rule as Lord of the universe- & it is not because that my outward situation is such at present as would please my natural inclination-no- quite the reverse- but if I am not deceived it is because I have a sense that God can choose for me better than I can for myself.  Since all my outward paths of life God’s watchful eye surveys, O who is wise to guide my lot Or regulate my ways I claim the promises of God as mine & am willing to wait his time for the fulfillment of them knowing that he is faithful who hath promised,-I as firmly believe that God will fulfill the promise he makes my Soul as that he is God,- but say I cannot Satan transform himself into an angel of light  & deceive me- if so & my mind rests on a promise that I shall never see fulfilled- then Satan thou mayest boast of having deceived me & not that the promise of God failed.

Nov. 25  1821

The cold winter weather is fast approaching the snow for the first time decended last eve- when we as rational creatures know that time will ___ forward this gloomy season of the year- why do we not faster prepare to meet it- but this dilatoriness to make our bodies comfortable is not so surprising as our neglect of our immortal souls which must exist to all Eternity & that in a starving condition unless fed from the fountain of living waters  O had we a right sense of our needy situation we should not give sleep to our eyes until we could claim the rich provisions of the Gospels as ours & then be seeking to draw daily comfort & support from thence  We should learn obedience by the things which we suffer- I think I have learnt some lessons of instructions of late  have heard of two deaths since writing the first a son of Maj. Bryant aged 21 he expired Nov. 11 & Mrs. Smith of Chester departed on the Morn of the first inst. (it being now Dec. 9)  Fryday night Nov. 16 we were awakened by the cry of Fire, Fire, I arose in a great fright an beheld the shop of Thompson’s in flames- help was very scares but by the great exertions of a few the house was saved  I think I could view the hand of God in this singular presentation in a most miraculous manner- He overrules all mortal things He can preserve & he can destroy  my life and health are also in his hands he can prolong or cut short as seemeth him best- & if it be for his glory that I am soon to end my days O that God would prepare me & provide for those that I may leave behind—helpless little immortals! May God in your youthful days manifest himself to your Souls


Jan 5 1822

Surprising! To think I have lived to date the beginning of a new year, last Summer I viewed myself in a critical situation approaching the advancing cold season would increase my bodily indisposition but- the Lord overrules all mortal things & manages our mean affairs….  I view my present situation to be allotted me by a wise, kind, just being & whether in life or Death I submit with a degree of patience to the allotment of his providence  as I was preparing for rest on the eve of the 24 December my reflections ran on mu poor advance that I made in the divine life  my family cares so great that I have hardly time for any serious meditation I cast myself away a an Idle, Hypocritical, unprofitable Servant, thinking that God would not suffer one of his chosen Children to lead a life to advance his glory so little as I viewed my life to be-  my last desire that I remember before sleep locked my senses was that God would grant me ___ that I was beloved by him & in my sleep my desire was answered, my pen cannot describe the joy & peace of mind that I experienced in my sleeping moments, -I viewed my smiling Jesus, & that he told me not to fear he had redeemed me & I had an interest in him that would not fail- O how loth was I to awake to the cares & concerns of life but may I hope that I shall experience the reality of this dream—when I launch Eternity will this Jesus be my friend- O I now feel firm & established viewing myself complete in him..

Sabbath May 19 1822

After a silence of 4 Months I am again permited to take my pen – & could I express my feelings of heart on paper (if I am not deceived)  I should write of the goodness of God to me for I think truly I have a sense of it-yes- I hope gratitude, thankfulness, fire my breast while I reflect on my present comfortable situation.  On Thursday April 25 I was delivered of my 6th child which proved to be a daughter- very pleasing to natural feelings it being the first of the sex  O that this little one may prove a blessing to us & may she together with our other children be devoted to God in their infantile days.  Let others call it delusion, Enthusiasm, and by what name they please- give me the happy assurance that God is my Friend & conducter through this vale of trouble- ley my mind be stayed on the promises contained in his word and I ask no other portion- “What sinners value I resign Lord ‘tis enough that thou art mine in possessing God we possess all things the daily comforts of life the happiness of agreeable Friends together with every other temporal good flows from him- and we aught to be willing to resign them all when called for.  When I view my past life for one year although I can see it chequered with Sin & Vanity yet methinks I never felt more willing to be completely at the disposal of God & to trust him for all future events although ever so dark & gloomy to human appearance- I wish to record this as an evidence that I hope I am not altogether a dull scholar in the school of religion—and whatever tryals await me in life still may I lian upon my God.  His arm shall bear me safely through-  heard of the death of Mrs. Burton wife of Solomon Burton who expired April 21 & the week previous Mrs. Dodge in this neighborhood.

Sept 29th 1822

On Thursday 26 heard of the sudden & surprising death of Mrs. Cudworth wife of Charles Cudworth of this town- O how aught my heart to be filled with gratitude when I reflect on my preservation through a trying scene to which she fell a victim- Methinks the last 4 months of my life appears more like a perplexing dream than a reality surrounded with a large Family care & concerns great. Body feeble-& mind in a similar situation- let me ask what profitable advances have I made in the divine life- I can think of none, except this that of viewing the world in its true light  Empty, Vain & utterly incapable of giving complete satisfaction-& if these views may be called making Spiritual advances surely I am not altogether a dull scholar not that I mean to renounce the comforts of the world as unnecessary to our present enjoyment as our bodies require  Earthly support Earthly things for their gratification yet the aspiring Soul soars aloft to God its Maker & cannot will not, be satisfied with nothing short of God himself There is nothing here that’s worth my days or glorious as my God


March 17th 1823 11 oclock

At this late hour I take this this little book & when I view my last date I am astonished at my neglect in recording the goodness of God to me  whilst I & my Family have been preserved through a long & tedious winter others of my acquaintance have been called to sleep in death- amongst the rest Jan 7 the wife of John Pomeroy departed- on Feb 22 Sister Taylor was brought to bed with a stillborn infant & her life for some time despaired of- yesterday the remains of Mrs. Strong of Worthington was committed to the grave-  thus while I record the deaths of others & might mention the sickness of my neighbors I have nothing in my own Family but health measureable & preservation in absence & all the comforts of life necessary but can I always expect the continuance of the blessings who am so undeserving- surely no- sickness and death must overtake me & mine-& O am I in a frame of mind to say the will of the Lord be done Since all the outward paths of life God’s watchful eye surveys O who so wise to guide our lot Or regulate our ways   nature shudders at the prospect of desolution-but- where can we look for complete happiness but in the world of disembodied spirits there I believe the follower of Christ is freed from Sin which causes all our unhappiness here below  Follower of Christ did I say! Then have I not great reason to fear that I must be a cast away- in how few instances do I imitate the blessed Saviour his life was pure without a spot but mine is all defiled with Sin yet I have had some great desire of late to be made holy even as God is holy…yet the desire is something good For which my praise is due- I consider it a happy frame of mind when my desires can ascend to God & will he? Can he suffer me to have such desires & not justify them———– I think if I am not deceived that I can rejoice that the Lord reigns & that all things must be brought in subjection to his government & hope ere long he will govern heart & life & conform me more to his divine image—–  O glorious hour O blest abode I shall be near & like my God

Oct 26th 1823

Methinks the time has arrived when the appearance of Nature outwardly corresponds with my inward feelings—vegetation ceases flourishing stormy, cold, & all nature is dressed in gloom  this I think is a true, but sad picture of myself- I am fearful I do not thrive in the things of religion. I feel gloomy but yet I hope not altogether stupid & indifferent- “Then how shall I my Jesus find O tell me where or when” O say I sometimes what Sin in particular is it that keeps from my God- for I feel at a distance I have strayed far, very far- & shall I ever be reclaimed & brought back to the kind Shepherd & Bishop of souls.  Christ hath said they that seek me shall fin me, & I believe his word to be good, nothing shall fail of all that he hath spoken  Lord help me to seek aright that I may obtain give me true repentence of all my sins & a heart humbled & subjected to thy will— then shall I again look towards thine holy temple thou wilt hear my crys & restore the wanderer

Saturday night Dec 28    1823

Fatigued Perplexed surrounded with family cares Husband absent to feel anxious for hardly have a leisure moment for serious reflection  yet—when all Nature is hushed in silence & family retired to rest- how happy the moment of solitude—conversing with a friend not long since she observed to me that perhaps my perplexities in life were detyned for my good—I told her that I was sensible they had worked for my good for I think I view the world & its enjoyments in their true light Empty, Fleeting & Vain & I may add Short & soon at an end—O did others view the things of life as I sometimes view them (I do not say that I always view it thus)  they would make but little calculation for future events time looks short, Eternity near, & the concerns for our souls at times vastly important-But we as people seem almost ripe for destruction how do we spend the Sabbath what examples do we set before our rising familys- I feel to acknowledge as one Guilty, Guilty before God & Man  I feel the need of wisdom from on high to direct my steps— :Lord can a feeble sinful woman Fulfill a task so hard”  No it is all in vain..unless God helps vain are our efforts to ___ ourselves or others…..I think I have had a realizing sense of late of the need of daily & hourly looking to God for direction to conduct the affairs of life, & it is the sincere desire of my heart that God would Mould, Guide & Govern, me according to his will—I know that I am not hypocritical in this wish & O that he would be pleased to grant it–  O that my God would grant me grace To know & do his will  as I advance in years instead of finding more leisure for Meditation & Retirement  I find more cares & perplexities  I think sometimes if I had a more of a mind to take satisfaction in the enjoyments of this world I should not call it perplexity & confusion as I now do—But—my mind soars aloft to higher enjoyments that I know I have experienced in my happier days—when the sacred scriptures unfolded to my view  but of late they have appeared like a sealed book  when I could submit to the dealings of providence of God with resignation… but now wish to take the government of myself- yet still at times am sensible that I could not govern for my own happiness…  O am I as we alone in the world an are their others like me  you that indeed love the Lord Tell me is it thus with you   I have been thinking of late why am I placed in the peculiar situation that I appear to be in  when I view my own insufficiency & the surrounding different connexins that I am connected with, to please or displease I am ready to say Who is sufficient for these things—but Let me but hear my Saviour say Strength shall be equal to your day  I can go on rejoicing & bid defiance to all troubles but, on examination I have written to a great length at this time- my mind ___ writing why is this: this is never designed for publick perusal—but myself may take comfort in the perusal knowing that I write from the impulse of the present moment-& if so- I have here recorded at times things that my mind is sometimes raised above the enjoyments of this vain world  Farewell vain world thy beauty gone ___________


Sabbath March 7th 1824

On the eve of Jan 18th the aged Mr. Robinson departed & on Fryday Feb. 20 his wife the former snatched suddenly from relations & Friends whilst the latter lingered year after year, and at the last expired like the last glimmerings of a taper when there is nothing left for it to consume  & now could I write of all feelings of mind that I have of late past through  the perplexities, the fears, hopes, joys & sorrows, methinks my pen might run to a great length but time will fail at the present suffise it to say it is all of the Lord let him do as seemeth him good God doth not correct the children of men willingly but for their profit & may I learn to submit with patience to the statements of his providence   I feel that my dependence is on God alone & Mortals cannot afflect without his permission   “Tryals must & will befall But with humble faith to see Love inscribed upon them all This is happiness to me”  life, health, Friends, riches together with all other Earthly enjoyments we are al anxious to retain—but we aught willingly to resign them when called for

May 23rd

“Just & holy art the O God in all thy ways & with Thee is no unrightousness at all”  I think my heart has been subjected to the dealings 0f—(interrupted must leave it)

June 21st

When I last wrote my mind felt measurable subjected to the government of God- & that happy frame of mind still continues to the present- if I am not deceived I can rejoice that the Lord, God, Omnipotent reigneth…. This is all my hope, this is all my happiness  I think I have a realizing sense that God cannot, will not alter his rule of government to please Mortals, but this he can grant consistently  bring our hearts in subjection—O how aught we to rejoice that we cannot take the government into our own hands for if permited we should soon be ruined at our own request  I now full subjected, submissive, but…perhaps the next time I write I shall be all opposition and rebellion, O God thou alone canst prevent it….

Dec 31st 1824  11 oclock

The last hour in the year hath arrived & perhaps the last time for recording any of my feelings is at the present- is it a careless indifference or a truly subjected heart to the government of God that enables me to acquiesce measurable to him & say the will of the Lord be done!  I think I may judge that insensibility doth not altogether rule when I can feel subjected to dispensations crossing to my natural feelings & hope say from the heart “ rule Lord & subject me to thy government”.   I feel like a feeble helpless child clinging to its parents neck and saying I cannot lose my hold but thou must be my supporter whatever tryals I am called to pass through  I am sensible the power of God is sufficient & if I am a child of his although weak, vile, & unworthy I claim the promises & believe assuredly that he will support me consistently with himself he cannot cast me off but will carry me through to the end  “All that his heavenly Father gave His hands securely keep” Lord search & try me is the language of my heart &  show me if I am not in the right foundation.  R.C.


Sabbath August 7th 1825

“O for an overcoming faith To sheer my dying hour To triumph ‘ore the monster death With all his frightful powers”  the scenes of this day shows the necessity of this faith- the remains of Mrs. Niles have just been deposited in the silent grave  I attended the solemnities & think I feel the importance of actual readiness- Last Sabbath the aged Mrs. Higgins was committed to the dust- & O should I be called soon to follow- what would be my situation, I shudder! I tremble!  I see my unfitness to appear before a holy God  O God prepare me fit me to live & then I shall be fit to die, still be my supporter in life and at the hour of death when aa earthly friends fail  may I lean upon my God his arms shall bear me safely home- on the Morn of the 14th last Jan I again experienced preserving goodness in the birth of my 7th child

Sabbath Nov. 27th 1825

I have long wished for an opportunity to ease my burdened heart by writing but confusion of mind & Family for a long time hath prevented .. & now what are my future prospects!  Still greater confusion in Family I have reason to expect & if my mind be not more subjected to my situation I am fearful of the consequences…  all before me looks dark & gloomy as to worldly prospects & the Lord hath taken the light of his countenance from me which makes me call in question my Faith, Hope & Love, that I have professed in former days  & can there be a situation on Earth more gloomy (sometimes say I had a true Faith I should trust God altho’ ever so dark to human view—had I Hope that when these tryals of life were ‘ore I should reign in immortal glory  I should also have Love that would enable me to bear all with patience and resignation “Was I deceived blest Spirit tell Nor leave me to despair Sometimes a heaven sometimes a hell Within this heart appears”  I can look back but a few leaves of my writing & there exposed subjection trust in God? & could I be sincere then, & feel as I do now- I then wrote in the sincerity of my heart- I now do the same (what a contrast   I must here record an expression that passed my mind while writing the back leaf- “When thou art tried thou shalt come forth like gold that is seven times purified”  O could I have Faith given me to claim this promise & should even now rejoice in darkness & tryals  believing as I do that not one of the promises of God can fail  I should have the comfortable hope that in his own time I should again have the light of his countenance and after passed the furnace should be better prepared for the enjoyments of the heavenly world


Saturday eve March 4th 1826

What am I!  where is my hope & confidence in God that I think I have experienced in former days; is his hand shortened that he cannot save or is his ear deaf that he cannot hear? My answer to these questions in the sincerity of my heart is that if I am a child of God a Vile ungrateful one that deserves chastisement yet as the little helpless child will cling to its Parents neck & feel safety in his arms altho’ chastened for its faults- so may I learn to trust in God & my love increase & be enabled to say altho he slay me yet will I trust in him  the cup that my heavenly Father gives me shall I not drink it?
I have foreborne to write on future scenes that I know must take place  it pains my heart to think of leaving friends & acquaintances that I have so long been familiar with but my aged parents? O how can I leave them?  But I forebear ‘ere I begin on the subject  perhaps I may never be called to the scene  my prayer is God go with me & support me wherever his providence calls  support these I leave if any mourn my loss  R.C.

Monday May 8th 1826

I once more take my pen & probable for the last time in this town. Yes- the die is cast- my fate fixed and soon I with my Family set out for a distant land…..I have taken leave one after another of my Friends & acquaintance  my fountain of tears about dryed up & I feel tolerable composure… but O the anguish that has torn my heart in months past—I can never dissemble it- none can realise it that never experienced it  but as the Soul when about to leave the body & take its flight unto an unknown world-a- although painful for nature to grapple with- yet (if united to Christ has the assurance of going to its best Friend so likewise I having parted with many near and dear friends now cast myself on the care and protection of the one I hold for dearest in life-& who in my esteem rises above them all  we have shared prosperity & pleasing scenes together  & now if fortune frown shall I not be as willing to share perplexity && misfortune…yes truly… at the last I go with cheerfulness & can adopt the words of the Poet :His call we’ll obey like ___ of old We know not the way but faith makes us bold”   O for a heart to cry mightily unto God for preservation wisdom & direction- I feel like one that has been long in the wilderness& could see no way out  all before me has seemed gloomy for months past but “the darkest day- leave ‘till tomorrow will have passed away”  I think the Morn begins to dawn a little & I hope “ere long the sun will arise to enlighten my dark soul and chase the heavy clouds that have hung so long in my mind.  But I must forebear & for the last time date my scroll in Chesterfield.  R.C.

Wales   July 16th 1826

Is it possible? Do I date my scroll in this place…yes, I have landed with my Family to this my destined place of abode  4 hundred miles from my native place and absent friends.. and now that I may the better keep in remembrance the scenes I have passed through I will now record some of them..—

Wednesday May 10th I took leave of my Friends in Chesterfield with the greatest calmness & composure that I ever experienced in so trying a scene- but scarcely had we set out our long & tiresome journey ‘ere my Friends who accompanied us & my two little ones were exposed to instant death   the horse took fright the wagon upset & they all landed at once on the ground—but O Miracle to record they all escaped without essential injury- we again proceded forward & reached the City of Albany Thursday eve  crossed the river retired to a tavern to rest the night—Fryday Morn –entered the boat with reluctance passed the day in gloomy melancholy notwithstanding the attention & politeness of the passengers that felt more composed than myself being wholly unaccustomed to the procedings of this conveyance  I thought I could never live to proceed in that manner- I hardly rose from my seat until the sun was near setting  at length prevailed upon to walk over to the other cabin to take a cup of tea- I then returned & felt refreshed & some more composed  Saturday had a more pleasant sail  Sabbath P.M. landed us in Utica I stepped on shore Sabbath A.M. for the first time I catched at the first spear of grass that presented with more eagerness than the Miser does his purse of gold.  Monday passed many agreeable places  Tuesday Morn raised the Cabin window found we were in Jordan 80 miles from Utica, Monday we had a view of the place where Salt is manufactured- this morn Wednesday I arose early seated on deck in the woods on the borders of Palmera  Thursday Morn arose to bless the earth. Found ourselves in Murry- yesterday P.M.- ___ arrived in Brighton called to see my old acquaintance Mrs. Smith-(formerly Relief Buck) was struck with her appearance her countenance denotes speedy dissolution  Yes I think my dear friend must soon take her flight to the world of spirits—at 6 Oclock reached Rochester  urged by the politeness of Mr. Much & Lady I called & took tea entered the boat again passed a comfortable night by reason of the cool breese we were favored with    the 4 first days we passed on board were alarmingly warm but we have as good accomadations as can be expected considering our number we have 7 familys on board consisting of 19 children besides many other passengers  some of the children have been sick, mine have been remarkable well—Fryday Morn arose at sun we found ourselves in the place called Ton-wanto Creek, heard the melancholy news that two men passengers in another boat were drowned in attempting to save a child that fell over-board  the child was saved  passed Lockport Thursday eve  I think the prospect these exhibited the greatest artificial curiosity I ever beheld it passes the power of description   I was reflecting Fryday Morn that we should take passage by land & viewing ourselves near the place I ascended on deck to view the pleasant town of Buffalo & we carelessly walked along the words passed my mind “It is God who preserves us safe to land we had not gone far before the boat hit in passing under a bridge &  hard to that degree that it threw our little Son Emerson over-board I saw him go shrick’d and fell  they raised me I found myself in the Cabin & my child in my arms- a gentleman at the other end of the boat sprang and saved him from a watery grave.  I then though I realized it was God who preserved us save to land  I spent Fryday night at Mr Mieck’s and Saturday took seat on a wagon to ride to Wales  I rode about halfway was quite fatigued accepted the invitation of a gentleman to stay at his house all night  Sabbath Morn he conveyed me on & about 12 O clock reached the house I am now in and O gloomy place it appeared to me I thought I could never content myself to take up my abode here  the prospect of water, the noise of Mills, the woods by which I was surrounded without & a house all out of repair within  all conspired to make me gloomy- yet many times I could reflect on the goodness of God to me & feel to trust him in future although ever so dark & gloomy the appearance

Sept 10th

The Summer has passed & I am yet alive and in good health—our Family have experienced sickness but all persevered & infant children have been committed to the grave in this neighborhood since we arrived—I feel sometimes as if our Family were brought out to this place for good but for my unbelief like the children of Israel I aught not to see the good of the land—I anticipated going to a Meeting last Sabbath & I think dwelt upon it with to much pleasure for me to participate, God in his providence ordered it otherwise our little Billings got badly burnt on the Saturday morn previous which prevented  it was teachable to me showed me I must seek for God at home  can I expect the presence of God at home or at meeting so long as my mind is in the unreconciled situation that it has been in of late—it is the Lord who hath over huld all that I have passed through, & brought me to this place  “Thy Makers will hath placed thee here A Maker wise and good”  then shall I not submit & say “it is the Lord let him do as seemeth him good I wish I might be enabled to from the heart, and “Though griefs unnumbered throng round me Still in my God confide?! I hope ‘ere long mind will be enlightened and then no doubt the face of nature will seem more pleasant.


March 18th 1827

The opening of Spring has arrived I have passed a cold & gloomy Winter as to natural and spiritual things  I think the mind to be the foundation for happiness let me then dwell no longer on outward gloomy objects but strive to cultivate my mind & have it raised from Earth to Heaven  I have written but little in this little book since I have been in this place & sheets of paper I have filled to those I have left behind.  In a letter I received from Sister dated last Nov. I heard of the death of my dear Friend Clarissa Olcott- although separated at so great a distance that I never expected to see her again yet hearing of her death affected me sensible how thankful I aught to be that I am spared a little longer to take care of my little ones but God can provide & take care of them when I am no more

Sept 23rd 1827

Alone this eve I take my pen for diversion, and surely I might have written sheets of paper since my last date  had I recorded all the scenes I have passed through—when I last wrote the people in this place appeared a in a careless stupid state as to the appearance of outward religion but it pleased the Lord in the month of May to call up the attention of the people in this neighborhood to the concerns of their souls—the word spread in the other parts of the town and we hope many have come to the knowledge of the truth—Conferences have been attended to Sabbath school, & bible class established & about 30 added to the church—thus we see what the arm of the Almighty can do- he turneth the heart of men as the rivers of water are turned- this place which appeared gloomy & lonesome the first summer I spent here, now wears a different hue, the inhabitants seem like another race of beings the face of nature appears more pleasant & I have enjoyed a calm & agreeable Summer in mind—as to bodily health I was brought very low in the month of July 20 & remain feeble to this day—but God is pleased to spare my life, & may I ask for why  is it that I may be enabled to be more useful in his cause?  Surely there is a need of vigilance  my past life (especially for 2 years) looks like that of a vile unprofitable servant in the vineyard  a heart unsubjected cannot render pleasing service- this has been my unhappy frame of mind to long  O that I may now resign and be willing the Lord should rule & use me as an instrument for his glory let me not be deceived?  Let me not act out the part of the hypocrite- if this is not my sincere desire O Lord make it known to me—I think many times I bear so little the image of my Saviour that I am surely deceived  this leads me to try my heart by the word of God & the expressions of pious writers. And on examination of late I have gained a little strength- altho’ many times my wicked heart lead me astray yet I hope to come off conquerer in & through the Lord Christ- “whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name ye shall receive”  these are the words of our Saviour—have I not asked for an evidence of my adoption for a heart subjected to the will of God and that he would take possession of my heart cause me to make some advances in the divine life and in fine to make me holy as he is holy—now if these desires are sincere they surely will be granted on Gods time

Oct. 6th  1827

The sound of death has again saluted my ears from a far distant land, received a letter 1st of this month which contained the mournful news that my 2nd mother departed this life Sept. 14th—not hearing of her sickness I was quire unprepared for the tidings & for a while it almost overcame me—but I now feel measureable composed & hope that I shall make a wise improvement & prepare to follow her—although I never expected any more temporal kindness from her yet I feel that I have now lost her ardent prayers- but I trust my loss is her eternal gain.

July 6th       [1828 or 1829]

Lonesome days & nights are appointed unto me—Husband & eldest son [John Kirkland Cowing] absent to be anxious for, little Family with me to advise and provide for, health poor, spirits low circumstances to look forward dark & gloomy  this is a sad but true picture of my situation as to worldly prospects- & now what shall I write is the situation of my mind under all these perplexities… I feel it to be just & right that I am thus off ___ & have the promise that if I humble myself under the mighty hand of God he will exalt me in due time.  But O without the assistance of God I am sensible that I shall grow hardened under his chastisement & my heart unsubjective, unsubdued which I know is to much my present frame of mind…  Christ words are “in the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shll have peace—if I am in choist why do I not enjoy more of that peace  this world cannot give neither the troubles of it take away—O that God would search me & help me to search myself that I may know my true state if I am on the right foundation I have nothing to fear  I view the promises of God firm to the true believer he hath prayed for them & hath said because I live ye shall live also— tho’ he chastise he will not cast off forever—but hath promised that all things shall work together for good to them that love him.  A hope so much divine  My tryals will endure!


June 6th 1830

This day I enter my 44th year and I find by experience as years multiply cares and perplexities increase, resolution & fortitude to surmount them weakens, then why should I not rejoice that Death draws nearer that will soon perhaps lay this feeble body in the dust? Where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.”— for a long time I have neglected writing & many are the afflicting scenes I have passed—I might fill a little book to record them all—on the 18th Sept 1828 the addition of a little daughter was added to our Family  on July 26th 1829 one member of the Family snatched by Death and committed to the grave.  Yes. I live to record it  Our dear Sister Lydia who came a long journey to reside with us. Then took her journey to the world of the Spirits.  O how often do I think of her in my lonesome hours & view her freed from the clogs of clay shining amidst the hosts of heaven, Singing praises to her Redeemer! Happy Spirit thus delightfully employed!!!! O may I indulge the hope that I shall one day gain God  the Nov following we quit our abode in Wales and on the 1st Dec. this place the town James-town here I have spent 6 months and have not seen a Public teacher of the Gospel nor attended a public Meeting yet amidst all my solitude I think I can sometimes realise a God at hand not afar off.  O that I may experience it in a trying scene that lies before me, and if life be spared be enabled to live more devoted to his service than ever I yet have done.

Nov 9 1830

Have heard 3 sermons by the Rev. Eddy, it seemed to enliven my feelings to once more hear the Gospel preached.  I feel to trust in God that I shall again enjoy religious priviledges—but at present I feel an empty void in my breast—altho’ perfectly contented in my humble ___ situation as to the enjoyment of Worldly Company- yet- my inclination for religious Society still remains  I am sensible that I can enjoy a Saviours love when alone but I think opportunity in religious conversation hearing Publick preaching &_ a great help to our advances in the divine life—I am afraid to trust myself lest I stray from the true Fold & lose sight of my shepherd yet entangled with the cares of the world in consequence of living where so little attention is paid to Religion—my Family is composed of an ungoverned___ of men who do not appear to regard the Sabbath nor the commandments of God—O how shall I who am but an imperfect sinful Mortal likewise set them an example consistent with the profession that I have made  “Lord can a feeble Sinful Worm Fulfill a task so hard?”

Sept 20th 1830

an addendum was made to my Family Sept 3rd of a daughter  at present my health very poor spirits low and my mind like the approaching autumnal season dressed in gloom!!!!


March 24th 1831

I have truly passed a gloomy winter my husband been absent 3 months and I think I have truly experienced what I realized last fall- that is sensible enjoyment in the things of Religion  I think I can adopt the language of the Poet “Was ‘ere one pressed with such Or ___ a lord with such unseen  ___ To find at once an absent God And yet Alas; a careless heart   I say careless because I am convinced that did I feel sensible of the danger of remaining in this situation and would make an effort to arise and return to my Father’s house I should be received with open arms—but I think these lines of the Poet truly applicable to my situation “Come Lord with greater power for )) Mine sure is not a common case Thou ___ to unveil but I Do scarce incline to see thy face Such languid, Faint desires I feel Within this wicked Stupid Heart I should, I would, but that I will I hardly dare with truth assist.  I flee from Thee Lord bring me back By tender love and by Thy ___.

August 21

I changed my habitation to dwell in but no pleasing alteration in my mind.  I am in an unreconciled situation of mind as to the dealings of God outwardly with me and a stranger to inward peace, (so pass my days


April 31 1832

The warm rays of the sun have chased the cold from the Earth but alas for me the sun of righteousness is hid from my Eyes consequently my heart in a cold Frozen, starving, situation.  Words cannot describe my Feelings, and situation, therefore I will not attempt it with my pen—

August 2nd

Visited this day by Elder Pulman and Lady received an invitation by them to unite with the Baptist Church in this place  I think it has brought me to self-examination- Reflection, of examination to see if I am a fit. Subject to again unite with the Church of God in his ordinances  Reflections on my past experiences affords a comfortable evidence that I once was—but—I must ask myself where I am now?  I answer- strayed far, very far from my heavenly Father… I think sometimes if there is a possibility that a Person can experience True Repentance for and Forgiveness of their sins-and yet by their folly and disobedience so incur the frown of God as never to be restored to his favor,–I must be that Person  when I attempt to pray God seems afar off my heart condemns me and I can only say God be merciful to me a Sinner.  I view my past life for 2 years I see it chequered with Sin, Vanity neglecting the commands of God & I am convinced that I am starving in a foreign land…. “And can so Vile a Sinner find A just and Holy God so kind And dare I trust his grace”  Must I after all that has been done for my soul at last come short


Feb. 20 1833

Awoke one morn not long since with these words sounding in my ears “Prepare to meet thy God O Israel”  O thought I my heart is in a poor frame to meet my God in judgement.—but whether in life or death I feel that I have now come to the resolution that I will arise  O that I may not tarry in all the plain but flee to the Rock Christ-Jesus,  if I tarry ‘till I am better I shall never rise at all—-

April 4th

I think I have experienced true sorrow and repentance for my sins and truly it was a better Cup to drink,  I feel that I have gained sight of my Fathers House and am like a little Child that needs the watchful Eye of the Parent that I turn not out by the way—but follow the straight road of Repentance, Obedience until I meet in my Fathers arms—then O may double cords of Love bind me fast that I never wander again—

June 15

I begin to feel the joys of pardoned sin and O for a humble thankful heart to God for his goodness may I have grace to assist me to live to his glory  “Returning prodigals will find Though they are base their Fathers kind??

Sept 15th

A loud call to prepare to meet God in the Death of our aged Father Cowen who departed this life August 20th after a distressing illness of 4 weeks. I truly feel to mourn the loss of his company ever kind and affectionate he seemed linked in my affections by ties equal almost to that of a natural Parent, he seemed so perfectly calm & composed during his sickness that I think he left the evidence that he was resigned to his fate  a Sermon preached on the 22 by Elder O Borr from Job “all the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come?”

Oct 24

Have been perusing a Book of late called “The Found Believers” I think examination of my heart comparing my evidences for a hope in Christ with the word of God & and the writings of Pious Authors  I may without Presumption hope that I have passed the new Birth that my sins are washed away in the Fountain of Christ’s Blood and may I not humbly hope since I have been once more reclaimed brought back to the Kind Shepherd of Souls—I shall come off conquerer in and through him that hath loved me and gave himself for “Where is the power can reach me there Or what shall pluck me thence” O I feel firm and strong in the Rock of my Salvation—I think Satan desired in times past to have me that he might sift me as wheat- but Christ prayed for me that my faith did not fail; in review on my past experience I find  Sorrows, Rejoicing Humiliation Thanksgiving alternately possess my mind–  “What Shall I render to my God For all the kindness shown??”  I answer a life in future obedience to his commands—His love in time past forbids me to think He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink

Dec 21st

If the Lord be God shall I not follow him- I have felt of late that it was time for me to arise and shake myself from the grave clouths of Sin and disobedience (which have so long bound me) and come out more openly and manifest on whose side I am, I pray for wisdom that I may be directed in way that my Saviour would have me to go  I believe one to be our Father even God and all his Children Brethern  then if so  Why this division in his church on Earth  Why cannot all come round the Table of our common Father in his ordinance in love & Friendship realizing his death & sufferings and that all are alike dependant on him for Pardon and happiness separate from any merit or works of our own–  this is a subject that has tried my mind for years and altho’ connected with a church of the close communion order still I never thot’ it consistent from the Bible and have now come to the conclusion to shake off the Shackles of Mens convention and rise to the Liberty of the Free-born Sons of God and by so doing I shall but evidence Publickly what my Heart has always approbated-that is Christian Filaspy [?philosophy] and Free communion with all Saints—I think our Saviour taught this example  since all true Christians can agree as to the essentials of experienced Religion these are Faith, Repentance & a strict obedience to the commands of God  let us not condemn one another but try to cultivate Love, and Union and since Christ broke Bread to all his disciples and left it on record that as oft as we did it, “do it in remembrance of him- shall I say because my Brother has not been baptized by immersion  Stand back—come not to the Table of the Lord….  Heaven forbid—I dare not presume it.


Jan 20

I feel happy to think my mind is established with regard to Publick duty  presented myself on the 4th as a candidate wishing to unite with the Church called Christians in this Place..  I was accepted and expect soon that my name will be again enrolled with another branch of Christ church in this world  and O if enrolled in the Lambs Book of Life it will stand Eternal ages never to be erased, never to be removed—but all be one in Christ Jesus ___  “We the dear Children of his love And he the first born Son”  Christian O how much is comprehended in this one word-“to be Christ-like” the tongues of angels can never describe the Perfections of the Saviour and when Sinful Man attempts to imitate these virtues, how do we fall short- yet I believe it is the desire of the humble follower to walk in the footsteps of the Dear Redeemer.

This ends the diary of Ruth Bissell Cowing (1791-1836)


Ruth Bissell Cowing’s seeming obsession with religion and her need to overcome personal sin, vanity and her ungodly focus on worldly things is quite in keeping with the religious views of her time and place.  By the time Ruth was born in 1787 the influence of the early Puritans had begun to wane but, particularly in isolated small towns like Chesterfield, many of their teachings still held sway. An example is that in keeping with the Puritan opposition to religious authority, Ruth writes of layman such as Wm. Lock or Mr. Hamilton who preached on the Sabbath or presented religious “discourse” at funerals.

Ruth had been taught and believed that she had been born filled with sin and that she had to live an exemplary life if her soul was to have any chance of joining Christ and the angels when she died.  Death was seen as a chance for eternal happiness but only if she was one of those chosen by God, a fate she wouldn’t know until death, or if she had searched the depths of her soul and had overcome sin and vanity.  Entering into a covenant with the church and being baptized was seen as a positive endeavor but not a guarantee that God would deem one worthy.

Ruth’s feeling that her death could happen at any moment and her subsequent wish to be prepared may seem a bit overwrought until you realize that death, often of seemingly healthy children or young people “in the bloom of youth”, were a daily occurrence. As Ruth comments, “sickness and Death are spreading fast in the land and short is the warning given before Mortals are hurried to their long home”.  In another entry she writes, “Death, Death, is the subject that presents continually”. In the days before scientific and medical discoveries provided cures or effective treatments, infections, diabetes, smallpox, typhoid, diphtheria and tuberculosis brought premature ends to many lives. Another reality was that childbirth often resulted in the death of both mother and child. Prior to the birth of each of her children Ruth’s fear of death is almost palpable as she agonizes over her preparation for death and attempts to accept that “in life or death, she is at the disposal of God”.

Ruth’s writings reflect a woman in a constant state of uncertainty, and oftentimes panic, that she is not pious enough to ensure that her soul will be welcomed into the spirit world by Christ. She even suspects that her feelings of affection for her newborn son John are wrong as she writes, “he was not given me to worship…he has to large a share of my heart   God requires my heart in preference to all earthly objects”.  As you read these thought and feelings it is hard not to feel sympathy for this mother of nine children who can’t seem to ever be good enough.


Ruth Bissell was born June 6, 1787 in East Windsor, Conn. and died August 17th 1836 in Jamestown, N.Y.  She is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown, Chautauqua County, N.Y.  She was the daughter of Noah Bissell (1753-1842) and Eunice Olcott (1752-1798).  Noah’s 2nd wife was Cynthia Bennett ( died 7 Sept 1842)

Ruth’s siblings were:
Noah Bissell (1777-1836) born in Windsor, Conn. marr. Polly Meach
Amelia Bissell (1778-1843) born in Chesterfield, Mass. marr. Stephen Taylor
Cynthia Bissell (1783-1826) born in Chesterfield, Mass. marr. Bela Stetson
Flavia Bissell (1785-1872) born in East Windsor, Conn. marr. Bonney Robinson
Solomon Bissell (1789-1871) born in Scituate, Mass. marr. Tirzah Pierce
Emily Bissell (1791- ) born in Chesterfield, Mass. marr. Calvin Cowing as his 2nd wife.
Benoni Olcott Bissell (1795-1795) born and died in Chesterfield, Mass.

On January 23, 1809 in Chesterfield, Ruth married Calvin Cowing (1786-1859). They resided in Chesterfield until 1826 when they and seven of their children, the youngest, Estes, being a little over a year old, journeyed via wagon and the Erie Canal to a new home in New York. They first stayed in Wales, then moved permanently to Jamestown.

Calvin was the son of John (1763-Aug 20,1833) and Lydia Fuller Cowing (1760- Nov.4, 1807).
His grandparents were Prince (1735-1877) and Margaret Karking Cowing (died Apr. 12 1817). Prince was among the first settlers in Chesterfield and it is said that Ireland Street was so named because Prince and fellow settler George Buck were Irishmen.   Calvin died in Black Rock, Buffalo, N.Y. and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery.

Calvin’s siblings were:
The children of John and his first wife, Lydia Fuller Cowling
John born 31 Oct. 1787, died 4 Aug.1806
Lydia born 18 Apr. 1789, died July 26 1829
Sophia born 1 Sept. 1791 in Chesterfield, marr. Josiah Robinson
Louisa born 8 Dec. 1792 in Chesterfield
Charlotte born 9 Oct. 1794  died Nov. 24, 1817 marr. Zenas Damon
Betsy born 5 July 1796,  died 21 Jan. 1820
Thompson born 8 Mar. 1798 in Chesterfield
Samuel born 21 June 1801, died 4 Sept. 1833 marr.10 Jan. 1827 Minerva Austin Abraham born 1802, died Nov. 4 1807 at 5 years old (he died the same day as his mother Lydia).
Ransom born 8 Apr. 1803
The child of John Cowling’s second wife, Abigail Meech (1767-1839)
Fordyce born 20 May 1809

Ruth Bissell was Calvin’s first wife and when she died in 1836 he married her sister Emily, probably in 1837 after she moved to Jamestown, N.Y. He may have also been married to someone named Mary as a third wife but this is unclear.

Ruth and Calvin had 9 children.  All but Lydia and Emily were born in Chesterfield.
John Kirkland Cowing born 6 Feb. 1910, died Nov. 18, 1845 marr. Sedate Foote
James Anderson Cowing born 30 Jan.1812, died Feb. 14, 1890 marr. Julia Maria Radcliffe
Harrison Otis Cowing born 19 June 1814, died March 16, 1899
Rufus Billings Cowing born 24 Sept. 1815, died Mar. 14, 1840  marr. Ann Jane Hopkins
Samuel Emerson Cowing born June 1819, died June 12, 1842
Elizabeth Thompson Cowing born 25 Apr. 1822, died Feb. 11, 1850 marr. Saloman Jones                                                                                                                   Estes Howe Cowing born 14 Jan. 1825, died Aug. 27, 1891  marr. Mary Jane Havens
Lydia (or Lida) Fuller Cowing born 18 Sept. 1828  born in Dexterville, N. Y., marr. Darius Leander Dickinson
Emily Bissell Cowing born 3 Sept.1830 in Dexterville, N.Y., marr. Charles Harkness (1816-1906)

Tracking Ruth Bissell Cowing’s diary.  How it came to Ann Conaway in Maine.

Emily Bissell Cowing (1830-1873), Ruth and Calvin’s youngest daughter, married  Charles Harkness and they had two daughters, Julia and Lida.
Julia Harkness (1866-1926) married Dr. Frederick A. Sweet and they had two boys, Phillip and Frederick.
Frederick Sweet (1903-1984) married Esther Elizabeth Stephenson. Their children were Jessica and Ann.
Jessica Sweet (1934-1986) married Robert Kelton Goss and their daughters were Ann  and Deborah.
Ann Goss married Andy Conaway.

Ann Mcdonald Goss Conaway who lives in Sargentville, Maine has the 1808-1834 diary of her great, great, great grandmother, Ruth Bissell Cowing.

Resources        sites such as this which describe the beliefs and practices of the Puritans in New England can help one better understand Ruth Bissell’s religious orientation and view of the world.

Ruth’s diary transcription and the accompanying addendum was done by:
Pam Simmons
Sargentville, Maine
Redwood City, California